Los Angeles Clippers vs. Portland Trail Blazers
April 16, 2013
7:30 p.m. PST
3 Seed Western Conference Standings Check
Denver Nuggets, 56-25
L.A. Clippers, 54-26, 1.5 GB
Memphis Grizzlies, 55-26, 1 GB
Two games left and the Clippers control their own destiny for home court advantage in the playoffs. Left on the schedule is a home game against Portland and a capper in Sacramento. Win those two and you get four home games in the playoffs. Simple as that. Now onto 3-on-3:
1. The Clippers went to DeAndre Jordan a few times in the post Saturday. Is that something that should continue?
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): I like the idea of giving Jordan a few touches in the post each game if only because it would make him more comfortable if the Clippers eventually had to use him in a more offensively prominent role in certain playoff situations. That said, we might be too close to the playoffs right now for that to have any sort of long term effect on him.
Jeremy Conlin, (@jeremy_conlin): It depends on where. DeAndre has a cluster of shots from the left block where he shoots about 40 percent. It’s obviously tougher to get him touches in the middle of the paint, but that’s where he’s the most effective. Although it should be noted that getting big men touches early, even if they aren’t great looks, can pay off in the long run because they’ll stay engaged on both ends.
Andrew Han, (@andrewthehan): Yes. An engaged DeAndre is a good DeAndre. Who leads the league in field goal percentage? DeAndre Jordan at 64.1 percent. What is the Clippers winning percentage this season when DeAndre plays 27 or more minutes? .773.
2. What is the key matchup in this game?
Katz: Damian Lillard vs. Chris Paul. Lillard might be playing at his highest level right now. At this point, he is essentially surrounded by bench players and remains the only chance Portland has to squeak out an upset. If he goes off, the Blazers might have a shot on the road. If he doesn’t, it could be a long night for Portland once again.
Conlin: Lillard vs. Paul. Is there anything else? It’s the cliche answer, but it’s the right answer. Each team is only as good as their point guards, and they have more in common than people realize. Lillard is more of a scorer, but even for a rookie he’s an absolute maestro in the high pick-and-roll game. The Clippers might be wise to trap harder than usual to get the ball out of his hands.
Han: The Clippers versus urgency. Los Angeles has peculiar struggles against poor teams and teams missing key players. With two games left and home court still in play, it’s not the time for complacency.
3. Do the Clippers win out and clinch home court in the postseason?
Katz: Yes. Portland has been without most of its good players and has essentially been starting scrub lineups. And if the Clippers need just one win over Sacramento to clinch home court, it’d be silly for me to pick against them.
Conlin: The back-to-back will be difficult, but they’re up against two teams that have been reeling of late (and by “of late,” I mean since October). I’m confident that they’ll get home court, because even if they slip up and drop one of the two, Memphis could still lose tomorrow as Utah tries to claw its way into the playoffs.
Han: Yes, although tomorrow night’s game against the Kings, who could be playing their final game in Sacramento, will be a doozy. Here’s a sleepy fact: the Kings have been seventh in offensive efficiency (107.5) since the trade deadline and 18th in net rating.
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